As a society, have we really come so far?

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As a society, have we really come so far?

Unread postby James » Tue Feb 11, 2003 4:39 am

As a society, on a humanitarian level, have we really come so far? Please post your view, and share your thoughts and experiences on the matter. Read my thoughts below for notes on common views regarding war, for example.

Edit: The text above is the topic subject, the text below is my thoughts.


Sure, we have developed wonderful technology, and some marvelous mediums for transportation and knowledge, but what about us as a society? I generally don’t talk about it here, but for the reference, humanity as a whole disgusts me to some degree. I think that the moment people gather into groups, reason and collective knowledge tend to loose out to a sort of mob mentality, and it sickens me. I expect moronic thoughts, principles, and judgments from them (e.g. it is good to defend Animals, but it is moronic to support PETA, it is good to support a political party that shares your view, but it is irrational to vote for someone you know nothing about simply because of that view), but I hope for a more rational frame of mind from people on their own (not surrounded by their fellow mob participants).

I have to go a bit into the war on Iraq here, even though I do not want this to be another Iraq discussion thread. I do not like the fact that my government is manipulating our society as a whole to gain favor for this war, and the reasons they usually give are, for the most part, not adequate enough to justify their actions. However, none of this changes the fact that Saddam is a horrible person, and his crimes against humanity are unforgivable, so I will not oppose them either. I just hope their solution is something more than removing him, as that will just move a new dictator in (heavens forbid it be his sick son).

My view expressed, I was debating the issue with a person I respect earlier today. I mentioned that I feel the government explanation tactics used are irrational, manipulative, and that I am sad it is what my government needs to do in order to gain support. In short, he supports the war (no big surprise) but he was okay with the chance of the primary objective being resources (don’t even try to tell me that is what it is about in this thread, use the Iraq thread instead). I was quite shocked that he would accept that. “To attack another nation for resources is no better than murder, we would be no different from the terrorists that destroyed the World Trade Center,” I replied. He continued to support his view, using the debate that a government must preserve itself (I agree that we need to preserve ourselves, but to kill others for it?) and he explained that if it was for resources, it would be okay because we can’t get the political power to do this in the US (environmentalists, as a group, can be pretty fanatical, and counterproductive to society, see my thoughts on groups above).

I moved on to talk with some other people, and I found that more than a few politically minded folks support war for resources for the same reasons. I asked some friends in other nations (people who attack the US at the drop of the hat) if they felt it was a reasonable reason for their country to go to war, and overall I got around 20% “yes” answers from people around the world (around 15 asked in total).

Is this so different from attacking your neighbor because you want the resources and space of his kingdom, an action common in war for as long as history is recorded, in all nations across the earth?

Today we put an amazing amount of time into hating other nations around the Earth without really taking a moment to look at our own. We are happy to point out flaws in a neighbor’s system based off information that can only be qualified as propaganda, even if our nation is not equal to the task. Slavery may not be as common an activity in major cities, but in some cultures employers allow their employees to work so hard death results, or they treat them so poorly that the word “humane” couldn’t even be used to describe a single part of their business. The average resident in my city will risk a car accident to prevent you from getting in their lane the moment you turn on your turning signal.

Some say society is falling apart, some say we are much more civil as a whole than we have ever been in the past. I disagree with both people. Society and power have been self-serving since the dawn of time. Are we kinder than we have ever been though? I think not, maybe we just like to think today’s problems are minor because we are used to them. Will people 100 years from now marvel at how cruel normal aspects of our life were? “Hindsight is 20/20”, a quote that comes to mind.

Discuss or debate my views on society, but not expressed political or military views unless observing them from a third person view to present your own thoughts.
Last edited by James on Wed Feb 12, 2003 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Tue Feb 11, 2003 4:58 am

I think humanity is both progressing and degenerating, depending on how you look at it.

I think humanity on the individual level is progressing incredibly. We have taken the codes of the past and applied them to the knowledge of today. Individuals value character, intelligence, and the world around them incredibly more than they did years ago. Stereotypes are peeling away, and while new ones often take their place, recognition of prejudice and its moral implications have grow a hundredfold. People are learning to think for themselves increasingly, beginning to doubt and question what they hear and find the truth for themselves. We are even beginning to doubt science's hold on us.

But humanity in terms of society and government is degenerating rapidly. Why? Because we can manipulate each other so much easier. Our world is more complicated and complex because our awareness has expanded from local and national levels to international levels, and even beyond (to the implications of our interactions with space). As such, individuals struggle to grasp all the information available to them -- information overload. Governments and societies take advantage of this, swarming over that information overload with authoritarian information that individuals swallow because they just don't have the energy to investigate or understand anymore. An individual as a part of a society alone becomes stupified.

The human psychology is an interesting thing in that regard. Individuals are quite calm, rational, intelligent beings, but as they participate in society, as they find themselves somewhere on a power scheme or in a mob, individuals become "the group", and lose their abilities, at least temporarily, to the wills of the swarming majority. Even the most rational intelligent person tends to be caught up in the passionate zeal of humanity as "the group". It's an interesting and bizarre pack behavior that never seems to work for the good of the world...
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Unread postby Justin » Tue Feb 11, 2003 5:40 am

I think as a species we haven't come that far but we are moving forward. You have to look at the fact that we have only been sentient for several millenia. No species can rid itself of it's problem in that short amount of time. Yes humanity still does horrible things but as a whole we try and do the best we can. No longer do we see our neighbor with something we want and shoot him and just take it. People are more civilized with each other and make more of an effort to see how other cultures, people, are. We must also realize that we can never become a perfect society. There is no Utopia, where there are differneces there will be some group that will ridicule the other for being that way. We just have to learn to make that part the smallest we can.
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Unread postby Wen Choung » Tue Feb 11, 2003 6:53 am

MAny things have happened...because our society (American) IS and KNOWS that we're the top of the world, we've become proud and complacent.

I think the thing that the US has experienced first in the history of this world is that the US knows that she is the "best" nation in the world. I can't think of any other time when any nation knows for sure that there is no other land beyond the ocean that is superior to them. As a society, this new revelation has led to a great sense of pride in general. And anyone who has studied any kind of Greek can thell you that pride causes the downfall of man.

That is why the US is literally everywhere. We want to keep tabs on the others, we want to make sure we're still and staying number one. However, history tells us that is not possible and common sense will tell us that it will never be possible.

There are "goods" that come out of our actions but there are always two sides to the coin. The goods and bads will always be argued but no one will really know for sure is any kind of action worth its unknown consequence. Who would have known that the answer to WWI would be the cause for WWII? Nobody really...until they saw it with their own eyes.

I think that the American society is beginning to decline because this new pride, which really only has grown over perhaps the past 30-40 years (I think it's safe to say we were #1 at around the end of the Cold War), has affected us negatively.

I was reading an article in Sports Illustrated on the 7'5" basketball player Yao Ming. One fo the things the article mentions, and I'll try my best to quote, "chest-beating and money-grubbing athletes" are not part of [Chinese] culture. Deep inside, I agreed and I think it is because of pride.

The things I think are the biggest corruptors of society are: greed and pride. I've boiled the 7 deven deadly sins into these two...
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Unread postby Gaara of the Desert » Tue Feb 11, 2003 9:07 am

As a society we have as many killings as we did before. We havn't improved as a society, all we've done is become more effective at killing people. We've increased the amount of humanity it takes before you can kill someone by making killings more effective and deadly.

We've produced weapons capable of wiping this planet clean of life.

So where's our humanity when we need it? If we had been a specie that cared we would never have developed some of the weapons we have today.
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Re: As a society, have we really come so far?

Unread postby Seven at One Stroke » Tue Feb 11, 2003 6:35 pm

This topic is way to broad and I don't think we can nearly cover all the aspects of it. I'll just throw in some of my opinions.

So far as the wars over natural resources goes, I don't think we can ever truly eliminate it. The first strand of thread that binds humans together are economic ties that ensures the survival of the group. After all, we are on a planet with a growing population and a rapidly-depleting amount of natural resources that we desperately need to survive: land, water, fuel and etc. In that respect, it is natural for a government -- a group of people bound by social contract, to help each other to survive through any means necessary. Many people see this instinct for survival as justification for war as a means to control natural resources, and I think it is onlynatural that we tend to protect ourselves at the expense of others.

In times of prosperity, when humans are not tied down by the baser needs, we started to develop culture and science. We tried to develop this sense of moral superiority, this viewpoint that we are actually above all other animals and nature in general. We began to feel isolated from the environment that we came from. It is in these times that we sought for the world-loving humanitarian ideals, and we use these ideals to justify our sense of superiority. However, we've never been, and probably never will become truly above others life-forms in terms of moral outlook. In the end we are just as self-serving, if not more so.

When a government, a nation, or a civilization is threatened by the destruction of their way of life or the depletion of natural resources that they depend on, they naturally seek out others to exploit in an attempt to ensure their own survival. When capitalism was about to collapse due to over-production, it spans outward to imperialism and seeks new resources and new markets to sustain itself.

We are self-serving, and no amount of rationalisation or propaganda can cover it up. If we are truly humanitarian, why do we not give out rice to people in the poorer countries? Why don't the rich share their wealth with the poor? Why do countries like India export a huge proportion of their wheat to foreign markets when they have millions of people starving? We have reached the global carrying capacity. The only way for the survival of a few is through the exploitation of the rest. If every commodity in America is produced on minimum-wage labor, my guess is that we can't afford half the things we own.

So in short, we haven't really come through as a more civilized people, and we certainly haven't transcended our mortal flesh. If anything, we have devised a more gruesome type of unnatural selection.
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Unread postby Sun jian » Tue Feb 11, 2003 7:08 pm

Wild-Eyes wrote:I think humanity is both progressing and degenerating, depending on how you look at it.

I think humanity on the individual level is progressing incredibly. We have taken the codes of the past and applied them to the knowledge of today. Individuals value character, intelligence, and the world around them incredibly more than they did years ago. Stereotypes are peeling away, and while new ones often take their place, recognition of prejudice and its moral implications have grow a hundredfold. People are learning to think for themselves increasingly, beginning to doubt and question what they hear and find the truth for themselves. We are even beginning to doubt science's hold on us.

But humanity in terms of society and government is degenerating rapidly. Why? Because we can manipulate each other so much easier. Our world is more complicated and complex because our awareness has expanded from local and national levels to international levels, and even beyond (to the implications of our interactions with space). As such, individuals struggle to grasp all the information available to them -- information overload. Governments and societies take advantage of this, swarming over that information overload with authoritarian information that individuals swallow because they just don't have the energy to investigate or understand anymore. An individual as a part of a society alone becomes stupified.

The human psychology is an interesting thing in that regard. Individuals are quite calm, rational, intelligent beings, but as they participate in society, as they find themselves somewhere on a power scheme or in a mob, individuals become "the group", and lose their abilities, at least temporarily, to the wills of the swarming majority. Even the most rational intelligent person tends to be caught up in the passionate zeal of humanity as "the group". It's an interesting and bizarre pack behavior that never seems to work for the good of the world...


i agree with you about mankind going forward and backward at the same time. the 'individual' can no longer survive w\o a group in today's society and mankind can't even look beyond money, power, and popularity anymore and this sickens me. how can such a brilliant species be so apt to follow such erroneous things. i'm sure life would be better w\o the 'need to be a star' mentality. society has put too much emphasis on material things and things such as friendship become unimportant, leading to a life ran by machines and money; machines doing our work for us and money as the reward for greed, giving people power they don't need. people these days have forgotten the word moderation in all things. i think society is in reverse and one day greed will lead to our demise; someone wanting too much w\o good reason, leading to war, catastrophe, and an ultimate breakdown of a society that could've been great if not for the power hungry nations, leaders, etc. what ever happened to needing each other to survive? now, all we need is a machine. that's not living , or is it? is sitting in front of a desk every day living? not to me; living is being around nature and my family. that's all i need; money and machines are a luxury.
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Tue Feb 11, 2003 9:21 pm

Indeed. I personally see society in direct reverse proportion to individuality. The more brilliant we are as individuals, the more foolish and amuck we are as a society. Our best times were probably when our individuality was at a moderate state, because society's ills would have equaled the individual's ability to overcome them.

I believe the reptilian mind is not so much an individual thing, as it is the collective psyche that becomes known as society...
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No.

Unread postby rcsha » Tue Feb 11, 2003 10:09 pm

[Look Up! No, no, at the post title...too far up, I said post title not thread title. Good job!]:lol:

As my title suggest I belive that the human race is about worth crap as it stands now. I'm going to go into list format, so follow me, if you can...

We have the following problems (to state but a few):
-We waste too much.
-We're greedy.
-We're too hostile and lack a peaceful attitude a lot of times.
-We're unfit physically.
-We're unfit mentally, now that I mention it.
-We lack unity.
-We can't do much of anything right.
-We're not too bright for the most part.

Okay, that'll work for now. When at least part of those problems are fixed, then I'll think about changing my answer.
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Unread postby Seven at One Stroke » Wed Feb 12, 2003 1:40 am

Wild-Eyes wrote:Indeed. I personally see society in direct reverse proportion to individuality. The more brilliant we are as individuals, the more foolish and amuck we are as a society. Our best times were probably when our individuality was at a moderate state, because society's ills would have equaled the individual's ability to overcome them.


I like that. It seems that as science rolls forward at lightning speed, new discoveries and new technology rushes us ahead scientifically, but socially and economically we cannot make sense of all the consequences and effects of our actions and the implementation of new technology. We often see the immediate result and judge it based on the short-term profit and ignore the larger picture in order to make a quick buck. This what they call a "cultural lag" I suppose.
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